) to outperform from neutral.
Analyst James Higgins says his upgrade is based on the belief that in the midst of a deteriorating environment for the airline industry, Delta should beat peers' performance. He says the company's liquidity, operating costs and balance sheet are relatively strong. Higgins notes the usefulness of Delta's new low-cost carrier. He cautions that the industry could be hurt by the U.S.'s potential move closer to a war with Iraq.
Higgins believes the broader revenue outlook is improving less quickly than his 2003 forecasts, pointing to possible downward revisions. He is keeping his $8.55 2002 loss estimate and his $4.00 2003 loss estimate. He is keeping his $21 target.